The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.) – Volume 11, Romans-Galatians

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Volume 11 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC) series, revised edition, replaces volume 10 in the old series. Both volumes covered from Romans through Galatians. We have a mixture of original authors being updated by younger scholars, new scholars replacing old ones, and one who did his own revision. What we have is yet another success in the EBC series!

Respected scholar Donald Hagner revised Everett Harrison’s original work on Romans on such a level that we now have a joint authorship. The Introduction covers the founding and history of the church at Rome, authorship, date, and place of origin, destination and integrity, occasion and purpose, composition of the Roman church, literary form, theology, the New Perspective on Paul (wisely rejected here), canonicity, and followed by a bibliography and outline. The commentary follows the usual EBC style: overview, text, commentary, and textual notes. It’s a solid effort for a mid-length commentary on Romans.

The Book of 1 Corinthians is a new work by Verlyn Verbrugge. He is known for the vast amount of academic works that he has edited. The Introduction addresses Paul’s missionary strategy, the church at Corinth, specific occasion of the letter, date, authorship, and integrity, literary characteristics, theological considerations, and a bibliography and outline. His editorial background gave him good insight on what would be helpful to pastors. He clearly aimed his work at them and succeeded.

II Corinthians was handled by Murray J Harris. His Introduction looks at historical background, unity, authorship, date, place of composition, occasion and purpose, special problems, theological values, structure and themes, and bibliography and outline. The success of Mr. Harris on II Corinthians is universally acknowledged. He has had a coup of sorts: the most highly-rated mid length commentary on II Corinthians with this effort as well as the top major exegetical commentary in his volume in the NIGNT series. I can’t recall anyone else who has done that. This is an outstanding commentary and the revision was successful as well.

Galatians saw James Montgomery Boice be replaced by Robert Rapa. I must confess having a warm place in my heart for the late Boice’s commentary, but it’s age did call for its replacement. The Introduction discussed the identity of the Galatians, the relationship of Galatians and Acts, authorship, date and place of writing, the epistlolary and rhetorical structure of Galatians, and a bibliography and outline. It was a little brief, yet contained conservative conclusions. Pastors will find the commentary adequate.

After reviewing almost all of the EBC volumes, I just don’t see how you could go wrong with this volume as a pastor or Bible student. The price is right, and the quality is good without getting as wordy as some of the major exegetical commentaries. For many pastors, that is another plus. Here’s another winner that you should check out!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Rev. Ed.) – Volume 1, Genesis-Leviticus

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Volume 1 of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC) series in this revised edition covers the books from Genesis to Leviticus. As is common in this series, this volume is a revision of an already valuable commentary. In this case, two authors revise their original work while another is replaced with a new scholar. There’s some great help to be found in this volume.

The Book of Genesis is revised by the original author, John H. Sailhamer, who is known for his writings on the Pentateuch. It appears to me that the earlier part of the Introduction is not majorly revised, but much material is added farther in. He begins with a discussion of the historical background, followed by one on the unity of the book. Next, he discusses authorship, date, and place of origin. In doing so, he reviews both the traditional and critical viewpoints. He expands to discuss the compositional view where he surveys what he calls In-Textuality. He goes on to discuss purpose, literary form including an assessment of structure, and the final shape of the primary history. He also compares it to the Old Testament (Tanak) as a whole. After an outline, he jumps into the commentary and gives an overview, commentary, and textual notes on each passage. I agree with those who rank it highly.

The Book of Exodus is done by prolific scholar Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. I have long had a deep respect for his work. I am aware that some think that his work on Exodus is not long enough while others expressed disappointment that his revision was not more in-depth. Still, his work strikes me as quite helpful in a series with the aims that the EBC has. In the Introduction, Kaiser discusses title and theme, authorship and unity (with conservative conclusions), date of writing, the text of Exodus, the date of Exodus, the route of the Exodus, and a brief discussion of theology. After a brief bibliography and outline, along with a chart about the Tabernacle, he jumps into the commentary proper. It’s in the same style mentioned above and is very well done.

The Book of Leviticus has Richard Hess replacing the work of R. Laird Harris. Mr. Hess has also written a commentary on the Song of Songs that is highly regarded. In his Introduction, he reviews name and text, date and authorship (with a favorable view of Mosaic authorship), scholarship and interpretation, and theology. Most agree that he has turned out a substantial improvement over the old edition. The commentary is outstanding and there are a few charts along the way that greatly help understanding.

This commentary provides great help on Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus. It’s a bargain with its three commentaries for one price deal. Pastors and Bible students will love it!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Interpreting the Wisdom Books: An Exegetical Handbook

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This book is the latest entry in Kregel’s series entitled “Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis”, edited by David M. Howard, Jr. If you have already used the earlier volumes on the Pentateuch, the historical books, the Psalms, the prophetic books, and apocalyptic literature, you know what to expect. This entry is equal in value to its predecessors. It tackles only Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon since the Book of Psalms has its own volume. The series is geared for graduate-level exegesis courses, but any pastor or Bible student could glean from its contents.

The first chapter overviews the task of interpreting Old Testament Wisdom literature. That requires explaining Wisdom’s perspective in the biblical sense. The author discusses what he calls the pedagogy of the sages and thoroughly reviews the genres of Wisdom: poetry and proverb.

The next chapter tackles primary themes in the Wisdom books. Each of the four books being studied are discussed one at a time. Outstanding theological themes are shared in this lengthy chapter. Whether you agree with all of them are not, you will be given much food for thought that will advance understanding.

Chapter 3 turns more toward the hermeneutical task. In this chapter, you will learn the importance of the ANE background, textual criticism, and context. This chapter also gives a detailed list of hermeneutical resources that can be consulted. Chapter 4 extends the process by diving into exegesis. Chapter 5 guides the reader into taking that exegesis and turning it into a sermon. Since some portions of these Wisdom writings are the trickiest to turn into sermons, this guidance will be greatly appreciated. Chapter 6 continues the process of sermon building to organizing the material and applying the text. Chapter 7 serves as an appendix of computer and Internet resources.

There is a helpful glossary of terms in the back of the book that defines carefully important highlighted words from the text of the book.

Mr. Curtis has done good work here. It’s thorough enough for deep study, yet short and the succinct enough to be used widely. This book can do you a lot of good and I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

1, 2, & 3 John (EEC) by Derickson

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This book is my new favorite exegetical commentary on the Epistles of John. It’s yet another notch in the belt for the trending Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (EEC) series. This volume compares favorably to other major series in the exegetical category while exceeding many of those same volumes in the evangelical category. Gary Derickson was an unknown author to me, but he makes a splash here with an outstanding commentary.

The Introduction given here on the Epistles of John is one of the better that I’ve read in a while. The author doesn’t beat around the bush. I loved that his first sentence read: “the author of this epistle is John, the beloved apostle”. That is not to say that he fails to thoroughly survey the scholarly landscape, but that he with equal adeptness evaluates it. As you would expect, he reviews both internal and external evidence in defending the conservative conclusion that he originally stated.

Next, he discusses recipients and date of I John, and after arriving at a conservative date, he smashes the scholarly idea of a “Johannine school”. Further, he works his way through the occasion and setting and deals with the proto-Gnosticism found in the epistle just as you would imagine. After discussing the order of composition of the writings of the Apostle John, he jumps into the purposes of the book of I John. This is yet another place the author turns out superior work. For years I have been disappointed with so many authors following Robert Laws’ tests-of-life view that ties everything we read in I John to salvation. The author is correct in seeing it a test of fellowship rather than that of relationship with God. He further discusses genre, theological emphases, literary design, and John’s love of dualism, before he dives into an outline.

The commentary section is impeccable. He shares both the Greek and English of each phrase and thoroughly exegetes it. There are ample textual notes and quality commentary for every passage. He provides the same quality Introduction and commentary for both II and III John.

I’m such a fan of this commentary that to me it could be offered as a prototype for commentary writing. If you plan to invest in only one quality commentary on the Epistles of John, without question this must be it!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Preaching the Farewell Discourse by L. Scott Kellum

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This book by Scott Kellum has many good things. It’s a hybrid of sorts, and so is quite hard to categorize. I can’t decide if it’s best to put on my shelves of books on preaching or on the one with my books on the Gospel of John. I finally leaned toward gleaning what I can from it regarding expository preaching, but then keeping it with the commentaries on the Farewell Discourse in John 13-17.

I don’t think I could do his exact method, but probably that would not matter to him. There’s just several careless mistakes made that he felt strongly that preachers should correct. In his first chapter, he tries to develop an expository theory and touches on all the important things. He does run slightly aground, as is so common in these type of books, to presenting a narrowness that more or less conforms to his own style. No one could disagree with the need of arriving at the proper interpretation, but he almost seemed to feel that the application (singular, it appeared he felt) was just as obvious. I’m not quite sure that’s true.

In the next chapter, he covers the analyzing of literary structure and flow of thought. He gives you an in-depth structure for John 13-17 such as you might find in a good commentary, but uses it as a teaching tool to say that that kind of depth is required of a book’s full context to preach one passage. Of course, a preacher must have an idea of the overall theme of the Bible book, but his method might never work for someone who has weekly sermons to produce. Still, what he shares is many of the things that we ought to be thinking about.

What follows is a lot of great information, sermon sketches, background information, and outlines for this important prayer of Jesus. How he presented all this information was a design that could have been more straightforward, but was helpful. Though the book is clearly useful overall, it’s final rating for you may depend on your own style of sermon preparation. As help on this portion of the Gospel of John itself, it rates even higher. Check it out.

 

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Some Pastors and Teachers by Sinclair Ferguson (Books on Ministry #20)

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This book is not at all what I expected when I first picked it up and began reading. In fact, I felt at times that the title did not match the contents. On most occasions, when a book does not live up to its title or the expectation the title produced, it fails. In this case, I may surprise you by saying that this book is Five-Star plus!

It turns out that it’s actually a compilation of many articles that Sinclair Ferguson has written over his long pastoral career. That approach often lands with a thud in many books that I’ve seen, but somehow those articles again made a magical whole here. Mr. Ferguson brings three incredible traits to the table that make this book a success: he’s an astute historian, a probing theologian, and an engaging writer. I offer that praise even though I don’t always agree with his theological conclusions. A book that can get me thinking as deeply as this one does is my friend.

The first 18 chapters are primarily a deep dive into three of Mr. Ferguson’s heroes: John Calvin, John Owen, and John Murray (I guess only those named John need apply!) In each of these three pastor/theologian’s cases he highlights their passion for preaching and pastoring coupled with an explanation of their theology. The theology never bogs down what is quite interesting biographical writing.

Chapters 19-31 are deep theology. Though he uses some of the explanations of his heroes mentioned above, Mr. Ferguson often wrote with more clarity, verve, and accessibility than they did. Again, I didn’t agree with all of his conclusions as I am not a reformed Presbyterian as he is, but with great warmth he laid the issues clearly on the table.

The final section is a bit more of a hodgepodge, but is in the category the book’s title led you to believe the whole book is about. He covers exegetical preaching, preaching Christ from the Old Testament, the preacher as a theologian, preaching the atonement, preaching to the heart, preaching and the Reformed theological tradition, followed by a preacher’s Decalogue, which was a very interesting list of things that he wishes he had heard earlier in his ministry. Only in his epilogue did the author leave off the emphasis on Christ and replace it with his own passion for reformed theology.

When you finally finish this book, you will then realize why perhaps the author felt comfortable with his title after all. Quite frankly, he thinks a pastor is not worth his salt who can’t ply theology. After I’ve thought about it, he’s correct.

This book is best done as a slow read. It’s thick and so will take an investment of time. Take it. You won’t regret it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.